Stratocaster (Slight Return)

Ghost Whistler

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Here begins an ad hoc diary of an attempt to realise something I've wanted to do for a while. Essentially, to rip off 40k (without rippingoff 40k, I have some self respect :grin:).

So begins the era of the Cursed (not dark) Epoch (not millennium).

Influences
The shorthand is this: cyberpunk/shadowrun/SLA 40k.
The slightly less shorthand is this: 2000ad inspired 40k greatly, this project takes those same stylistic elements (puns, dystopia, but deadpan dark sci fi as if Maggie Thatcher was still with us...oh wait) and mashes them with a touch of Cyberpunk. SLA is name checked also because, being British, it draws on similar influences, and has produced a work of impressive cult longevity. It's suitably dumb clever and awesome simultaneously.
What do I mean by Cyberpunk? Well this isn't intergalactic, spacer opera. It's set in the solar system. Cyberpunk is a more 'local' genre in that respect, urban sprawl as opposed to intergalactic empire. Hopefully that will come clear. This project is also (slightly) less religious zeal and (slightly) more tech. For example one character concept will be a 'High Sentient', an AI. But one that must survive in a world that treats them with superstition and fear. Just not planet smashing existential dread.
It also touches on some western myth (king Arthur/Norse).
It wil also make use of fantasy tropes (including squats, because that Necromunda squat looks badass)

Elevator Pitch

"The Questing Wars ended a period of brutality known as the Age of Steel. With the help of the Ravens Three, the greatest of the Techno-Warlords, the Warfather, forged anew the swordship Lex Caliburnus and made alive the Solar Imperium. His passing marked the end of a great renaissance for humanity within the system, but saw the birth of a terrible new era. One that, according to the prophecies of the Ravens Three, would see his return to destroy the daemons of a resurgent Wraithverse.
The Cursed Epoch is that period. A time of superstition and mystery, measured in blood and steel. Teeming multitudes live wreathed in industry and corruption; surrounded by dark powers. A bold and bloody era of heretical science and mysticism. Gamblers wager souls using forbidden decks of power. Redeemers and their diamond dog trackers hunt the guilty under Imperial Law. The faithful devote their lives to a pilgrimage to the remains of the Lex Caliburnus and the tomb of the Warfather, guarded and kept by the cult of the Valkyr. Dark powers make desperate deals in strange locations. Places like Port Cruach where, under the baleful gaze of the Dreadgate into the Wraithverse, anything is for sale."


You may uncurl your toes at this point. :grin:

A (very) brief history of prior epochs. Although there is no mention of a date, this is a far future setting. Forty thousand years hence is not very far off. But not so distant that the sun is about to die.

The Golden Age - the peak of human civilisation during which humanity had evolved into a superior being (my take on the Eldar that will henceforth be known as Eloi, for want of a better title). He developed esper (ESP) power and grew arrogant, but was laid low in trying to tame the darker aspects of reality, namely the evil dimension called the Wraithverse.
The Age of Steel - a period of brutality and war where humanity was ruled by Techno-Warlords. They looked to DNA Shamans to build them biological weapons of war which changed humanity further.
The Questing Wars - a period connecting the Age of Steel to the Cursed Epoch. Here the greatest of those Warlords, the Warfather, unites humanity and forges the Solar Imperium, with help from surviving Eloi.
The Cursed Epoch - the wraithverse ascends anew, the Warfather is believed killed (betrayed by those Eloi). This period will end with his prophesied return to destroy the Wraithverse once and for all. Until then it leaves its mark on everything. The Imperium endures, but not without considerable travail and corruption. The usual.

Thanks for reading.

PS, to get you in the mood, here is the soundtrack to 40k Dawn of War PC game from way back when
 
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Ghost Whistler

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Playing in the Cursed Epoch
This idea might work, or it might not. It is intentionally metagamey.

As denizens of this era, player characters choose a Curse that affects their behaviour. Either they are Zealous (dedicated to the Imperium in some way, "For the Warfather!"), Psycho (addicted to the high stress toxicity of life in this age, perhaps a raider or savage of some kind), or Corrupted (by the wraithverse/witchfire or, but not necessarily, a mutation).
Enduring one's Curse grants points that can be spent in the usual power-up way: fuel cool abilities etc.

There may be more possibilities for different types. But these stamp onto the player the vibe of the setting. You're playing Judge Dredd, not Dixon of SpaceDock Green. You're playing Nemesis the Warlock (ish) not Legolas. You're playing Lemmy, not Johnny Mirrorshades the Rockerboy from Night City.
 

Ghost Whistler

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There is bloody entertainment broadcast throughout the Solar Imperium. Shone on broadcast walls in workplaces or the iniquitous bars of places like Port Cruach. Recorded in flickerpage animations bought for Sols from street hawkers. Holodreadfuls.

None is the equal of the venerable sport of the Crusader Cadres (not even the bloody stadium sport of Deathstrike). They fight the Warkind on the planet Caliban. A world that once had a different name.

Unleashed during the Age of Steel by the Techno-Warlords, this machine plague (the Warphage) twists life, weaponizes it and turns it against an enemy. Unfortunately it came to view all of humanity as its singular enemy. It took a great effort but the Warkind were finally beaten back to one planet, Caliban. Now they are contained there, using the best resources. None are allowed on Caliban's surface. None, that is, except the Crusader Cadres and their Thundersuit war machines.

The Cadres trace their history to the time of the Questing Wars. The first Crusaders accompanied the Warfather on his mission to unite humanity. Since that time their descendants have maintained their martial traditions - by instituting broadcast arena combat with one of mankind's most implacable foes. The Warkind are remorseless, without feeling, only cold hard programming. The Imperium knows that should the warphage escape it could spread beyond the ruins of Caliban. The Cadres serve a dangerous but noble purpose under severe quarantine, but their integrity is beyond reproach.

Nothing could corrupt them.
 

Ghost Whistler

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Megagard.

A city the size of a continent and the greatest haven of humanity on the blasted ruins of Old Terra. Above the planet the Witchfire; the mystical ruins of Luna. Most are spared this maddening (or perhaps insightful) view by the Halo; a layer of toxin and waste constantly bolstered by the city's Azoth industry.
Above the halo, and proteced from the Witchfire by special and expensive means, are the Highspires. These are the exclusive atmoscraper enclaves of the elite. The Lords of the Imperium reside here, rarely compelled to descend beyond the halo. Indeed their children have to learn that life exists below this layer of fume.
At the lowest level life is aggressive loud and fast. A dense morass of sound and vision, mania noise and zealotry known as the Underbog. Built into the surface of the planet layered over by the rest of the city, denied even the electric aurora storms of the halo. Below the hum and noise of the Termite Network; the transit hiveways that cross the planet's core. A feat of engineering created during the Age of Steel capturing a singularity to speed vehicles thorug. Many dwell in the vehicles that cross the network spending their lives on the road. Highway warriors.
And finally there is Port Cruach. A place of legend said to connect the real world to the Wraithverse; the abode of demons and the origin of sorcery. A place of nightmare and opportunity.

Beyond Megagard there is the Badlands, a wasteland of demons and mutants exposed to the Witchfire. Here one finds the impossible tower of the Watchtower. The agency that guards the souls of men and home to a multidimensional Vault of secrets and terrors. Tartarus Station is here also. Though the Badlands is rich in Overlode and Ragnarok, it is Tartarus Station that produces the most. It is a penal facility where the most wretched and deserving of the Imperium's enemies are interred. Escape is impossible; who could survive the journey back to civilisation? Tartarus is controlled by the House of Redemption; the largest purveyors of justice (according to the code of the Warfather) within the Imperium.

Inspirations: Megagard is a typical 40k uber city + Termight from Nemesis the Warlock.
Tartarus Station is Titan, the penal colony from Judge Dredd.
The Badlands are your typical post apocalyptic mutant hellhole.
The Witchfire is Day of the Triffids via Lovecraft
 
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Ghost Whistler

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Interesting. Reads a bit like something you'd find in Heavy Metal.
Thanks. That's sort of what I'm aming for. A bit more 40k perhaps. But still that gonzo baroque medieval sci fi vibe. I am tempted to limit the setting to simply the city (like Cyberpunk). But that removes space travel
 

Ghost Whistler

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This project has evolved. I now call it "Stratocaster, slight return". Weirdly inspired by...well see if you can guess from these unhelpful vague tidbits.

The Stratocasters: ships unlike any other. Forged by the Amplifier Dragons with the ability to manipulate the hyperspace dimension known as the Electric Ether. They were golden ships of peace, until the rise of the Distortion, piloted by the ancient Mariners. The last Stratocaster fleet were believed destroyed during the Metal Wars. There is talk that a few were corrupted, turned into Hellions by the influence of the Distortion during the conflict. Terrible starbirds of destruction.

The Metal Wars: the greatest galactic conflict, fought over precious Ragnarok. The conflict tore apart the region that is now the distorted hinterland called the Overlöde. The central point of this region is a vast rusted starport, built from the ruins of fighting battle cruisers. This is Feedback Station; it’s neutrality is fiercely protected.


The Solar Federation: the merchant princes and generals of the old regime instituted a coup toppling the remains the empire of Inter-Galaxus. Taking place at the crescendo of the Metal Wars the Solar Federation is highly authoritarian, dominating the market for Ragnarok. The apocalyptic ecumenopolis of Megagard is the Federation’s capital.

Inter-Galaxus: the old interstellar kingdom that existed prior to the Metal Wars. An imperial realm of honour and nobility protected by the Ultra Marshalls whose Ragnarok-fuelled Blastaxes were synonymous with justice. Their betrayal led to the untrammelled destruction that became the Metal Wars. The Lord Protector of Inter-Galaxus was killed during; the last living descendant of the Warfather; the empire’s founder.

The Distortion: galactic darkness; corrupting and evil. A source of the power known as Discord. It is rife within the Overlöde; ground zero for the Metal Wars. This region is drenched in dark power; mutation and demons. It is also the largest remaining source of Ragnarok. Naturally there are many cults devoted to the power of the Distortion, even within the cloisters of the Solar Federation.
 

Silverlion

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I'm watching this, and it's weird and wonderful in a way I like. Have you ever read the Galactos Barrier? or Starchildren? Just curious.
 

Ghost Whistler

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Starchildren the Velvet Generation? I heard about it but I never ever saw it for sale anywhere. Perhaps it was a urban legend or a Hawkwind orgone accumulator induced dream!

I don't know Galactos Barrier at all

But the trick with this is that it is deadpan and isn't meant to be overly self referential. I drew the line at calling cybernetics 'dionics' for example :grin:
 

Ghost Whistler

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The premise for this, to be clear, is a crew of misfits aboard a Stratocaster having galactic heavy metal adventures.

Stratocasters are powerful ships that take the PC's around. They get noticed because of what they are, but they are rare and precious. Are the PC's in control of their craft? How did they all come aboard together? What is the nature of their Stratocaster?

Not unlike Farscape. If Farscape was the subject of 2112.

I have assumed control
 

Silverlion

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Galactos Barrier was published for TSR's Amazing Engine--it was pretty much Star Wars with the number filed off, but, it had a unique thing--their Force equivalent was called the music of the spheres. https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/249414/AM5-The-Galactos-Barrier

I've no idea if it's good though, I have read neat things mentioning it in passing. I recall it using I think decibels, and crescendo's in some manner. But that's a vague memory. The Amazing Engine kinda blew, honestly but I know both the magic system from Faerie Queen and Country and the settings for it and Khromosome were neat. They just needed any other system than the mess of AE.


Starchildren, I own a copy of--thanks to one of the people involved in its NEW edition. Which was kickstarted a while back successfuly!

I do like where you are going--and can I submit that they call those who fly Stratocasters members of the Instrumentality? Because that's a fun sci-fi term.

Now, I actually want to throw in Rock and Rule; and make an entire SF game of my own where music is magic (that is better than my 24 hour urban fantasy RPG.) Thanks. *LOL* First adventure: "We're Getting the Band Back Together..."
 
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Ghost Whistler

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I think the instrumentality sounds more like a theology of some kind... more a faction to deal with than join. The PC's i envisage should be outcasts and misfits or certainly iconoclasts of some kind. Not perhaps members of any particular faction. At least that's how I see it :grin:

Something like the Instrumentality of Moog Ra

And yes absolutely that should be the first adventure :grin:
 

Ghost Whistler

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Sanctioned Warmonger (class)
This is one character class idea. You are a warrior. Not just any warrior, but a berserker mercenary type. You fight in the guts of the galaxy for money and, more importantly, fame. Your greatest hits are recorded on (what i'm tentatively calling) the Goregrid. People love that shit. Maybe you rock solo, or as part of a band. Warmongers are infamous for their Ragnarok powered battlesuits, built to contain their Warspasm abilities (see Slaine). Many were acive during the ever popular Sabbat Wars, fought to purge Inter Galaxus of daemons.

Oh and (further inspired by 2000ad) they are connected to the Goregrid through neural chips. When members of the band die, they get to implant them in their killguns or scarmour or whatever (those aren't spelling mistakes :grin:)
 
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Silverlion

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Sounds cool. Though I might try and use a few fewer words that seem like they need (TM) symbols next to em. The flavor is a good thing unless you over saturate and want people to eyeroll at it--which noting you're aiming above a bit at the satire aspect, is fine, but I'd still drop it in teaspoons not pour the whole can in.
 

Ghost Whistler

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I agree, I was just being colourful :grin:

I use these terms as place holders. They help me think of better things by representing the vibe I'm looking for even if I don't/won't use them
 
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Ghost Whistler

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Sanctioned Warmongers fight for glory and coin; the fame of the infamous warcast network (via Neural Rune implants) and cold hard Sols. Ragnarok powers their battlesuits, enabling Warspasm abilities. These can transform the Warmonger’s very body into terrifying battle forms. Battlesuits can also host the Runes of fallen bandmates, granting them immortality within the Warcast network, and improving their tech. These are two separate ability streams available to Warmonger characters.

Ancient Mariners were bred by the Amplifier Dragons; genetically engineered via Ragnarok alchemy to pilot Stratocasters. Mariners form a deep bond with the sentient part of these vessels and, if that is ever lost, leaves them bereft. Many that have survived the Metal Wars mire themselves in dependency, smoking Rif in dive bars throughout the remains of Inter-Galaxus.
 

Ghost Whistler

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Third class, this i'm a little less sure about but Black metal Rider sounded cool (just take the character class archetypes from Black Crusade...)

Black Metal Riders trade in relics from bygone eras found within Distortion touched space. Naturally they are drawn to the Overlöde. The collective term for such treasure is black metal. It is illegal, powerful, dangerous and, if it can be safely sold, profitable. You might think that Riders are rich, but you’ve yet to meet one that hasn’t been either mutated or corrupted by Black Metal - and that’s assuming they aren’t lured into keeping these relics, believing they can become powerful. The true rider knows better, which is why he stays poor.
 

Ghost Whistler

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Ultra-Marshalls once the galaxy was ruled from the Electric Castle, throne of the Galaxian High King, protected by Ultra-Marshalls working from the Watchtower. During the Metal Wars they became divided. Many now serve the Federation, forming the basis of the Diamond Dog elite militia. The Watchtower is lost, but just recently its commensurate card, from the Astral Arcana, has reappeared. Is this a good sign?

Is this getting too bizarre?
 
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Silverlion

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I like that. Though for Black Metal Riders, I kinda want to seem as maybe fighter pilots, or pilots of unique small craft (maybe literally space "motorcycles" so to speak.) There is art here for a game that was multi-genre/fiction that wasn't my thing (The Strange). But art? Totally makes me think of this: https://images.app.goo.gl/fUUyFkMWwMwF3FDEA and https://images.app.goo.gl/sKopgFnqh5qgavVDA

And Marshal's here: https://images.app.goo.gl/XPUc2y489pUKrpvCA

I get tired of art used to sell the game, then not having "hey you can actually play this cool thing/character! (Then not actually having it be a thing.)
 

Ghost Whistler

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I like that. Though for Black Metal Riders, I kinda want to seem as maybe fighter pilots, or pilots of unique small craft (maybe literally space "motorcycles" so to speak.) There is art here for a game that was multi-genre/fiction that wasn't my thing (The Strange). But art? Totally makes me think of this: https://images.app.goo.gl/fUUyFkMWwMwF3FDEA and https://images.app.goo.gl/sKopgFnqh5qgavVDA

And Marshal's here: https://images.app.goo.gl/XPUc2y489pUKrpvCA

I get tired of art used to sell the game, then not having "hey you can actually play this cool thing/character! (Then not actually having it be a thing.)
Thanks for the response.

I see what you mean about the Rider. However I think changing him to be a pilot type risks encroaching ont he Mariner class because that's what they are meant to be. However it may be that the Riders have a signature 'hog' they use as a personal space bike, custom built from Black Metal of course. But that is getting pretty weird! :grin:
 

Ghost Whistler

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So a lot of these ideas are born of me thinking a cool name/phrase and then working to fit something into that. Black Metal Riders is one example. Black Crusade had something like 'chaos bikers of the outer wastes' as a chaos space marine archetype. So of course that is metal!

However Black Metal Riders may be more suited to a Lobo (DC comics foul mouthed space bounty hunter) style soul mouthed space bounty hunter. The only problem is that there might be too many warrior oriented classes. Warmoner, bounty hunter, and something I also have called Ultra-Marshall (warrior knights of the old kingdom). Might get a bit crowded. While The idea was the Rider to be a kind of 'rigger' type or even a rogue type character. Ish.

Another example of this approach, that I'm working on, is something called a Tape Raider. This was inspired by the early eighties crusade against music piracy. Music. Piracy. Stratocasters. "Home taping is killing music". So i'm not entirely sure how this would work, possibly to do with magic. Maybe these guys use 'stolen' spell knwoledge recorded onto intergalactic eight tracks and represent a cosmic black market in tape recorded magic!

Now that IS weird!
 

Silverlion

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I'd probably go with quantum entanglement "tapes," as in they resemble cassettes, 8 tracks are too ''70s, while Heavy Metal bridges the eras. Literally though, I'd probably hew closer to a bard. They slot in a tape and can summon the magical power of metal ballads to bridge the gap between quantum signatures. Allowing them to bend time and space--their powers are more psychic, so they're Mind Raiders. Essentially they're casting off scrolls--they can do a little without scrolls but they need theme music to "accelerate their minds" between the empty spaces of the deep realms.

One of the things I thought on Black Metal Riders--was they were stealthy, they don't have the elite Stratocasters, but they have their rides, their bike and they are symbiotic, it is an extension of them and vice versa, they're stealth raiders, sneak in and pirate/steal secrets from whomever's ship or Stratocasters are in their way, oh they ride the long haul in packs; none ride alone. They're fast on the short drive, but not able to move as elegantly or fast as a 'caster on the long haul. They're bikers of their age, to long-haul trucks. They can't fight a well-armed ship, but they can't be seen/detected easily until they get close. For anyone else, Black Metal is a nasty warping thing--and maybe it is for them too, just that bond between them and the void through their Ride, keeps the worst at bay?
 

Simon Hogwood

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Another example of this approach, that I'm working on, is something called a Tape Raider. This was inspired by the early eighties crusade against music piracy. Music. Piracy. Stratocasters. "Home taping is killing music". So i'm not entirely sure how this would work, possibly to do with magic. Maybe these guys use 'stolen' spell knwoledge recorded onto intergalactic eight tracks and represent a cosmic black market in tape recorded magic!
Spellbooks as mixtapes - now that's an idea that could be developed a number of ways.
 

Ghost Whistler

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It would need to be a tape format befitting the heavy metal sci fi nature of the setting. Tape woven from the Loom of Discord, stored in Dragon Adamant casing, played using an Amplifier Dragon.

Or something

There also needs a city like Tanelorn. A neutral port perhaps where heroes can pick up missions from Mr Johnson or the equivalent. Stormbringer City
 
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Ghost Whistler

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Suffragette City? Motorway City? Birmingham?
Those are excellent choices except Birmingham, because Birmingham. Besides Space Spaghetti Junction?!?

I could just use Tanelorn wholesale and distract Moorcock by throwing a Warhammer Chaos codex at him and watch his head explode. Let us enjoy it now


Sulphur Jet City? I like abstracting the influences just a little.

Motorway City? My favourite Hawkwind track from by far and away the best album they ever did


Motorhead Station?
 

Stevethulhu

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Those are excellent choices except Birmingham, because Birmingham. Besides Space Spaghetti Junction?!?

I could just use Tanelorn wholesale and distract Moorcock by throwing a Warhammer Chaos codex at him and watch his head explode. Let us enjoy it now


Sulphur Jet City? I like abstracting the influences just a little.

Motorway City? My favourite Hawkwind track from by far and away the best album they ever did


Motorhead Station?
Birmingham because Black Sabbath, Judas Preist, Robert Plant and so on. It's the birthplace of metal. Or is that level of reference too subtle?
 

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I wrote a post that got chewed up in the site shennanigans. I don't want to retype it all, sufficie to say the vibe of this project is as follows:

1. sword science and sorcery and spaceship and dirt and metal. It's 2000AD and Derek Riggs' cover for Stranger in A Strange Land (the Iron Maiden single).
2. deadpan. it is played straight and isn't meant to be a comedy. It's not Tenacious D
3. the influences are there, but they aren't meant to be literal. There will be no Emperor of the Solar Federation (which is probably as close to literal as it gets) called Rand Peart. No planet called Saxon. But there could be Blind Guardians and even Judas Priests because those are more generic terms anyway. Stratocaster works because it sounds like a spaceship as well as a guitar. So there are Ancient Mariners and they smoke Rif (taken from Kif and the word riff).
4. Reference points are hard to come by because a) my ideas are nuts and b) I can't think of any. The starting point was Warp Riders by The Sword (which isn't a great album musically but conceptually it piques my interest), Hawkwind's Chronicle of the Black Sword, elements of Brutal Legend (mainly the intro), and Legacy of the Beast (the Iron Maiden video game cash cow).

Here is a pinterest link for riffs and giggles.


So mote it be
 

Ghost Whistler

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Sanctioned Warmonger edit:
Instead of the Goregrid, I think there will be the Black Hole Broadcast as the intergalactic noosphere. Possibly with room for a DJ hacker type (radio caroline meets the matrix, not 'alf pop pickers). The BHB is targeted by the Federation who want to control and sanitise it. Anyway, the Warmongers record their exploits which fetch a high price as data sagas, These of course find the BHB as a marketplace.
 

Ghost Whistler

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I think it's clear, according to a secret Solar Federation report, that over generation, exposure to undiluted Ragarok has mutating effects. The Mariners, those that piloted Stratocasters for generations. They have experimented with Ragnarok, mutating them to give them the skills they need to 'merge' with their charges - or are those terrible ships in fact masters?
 

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Trying to figure how many classes should exist. Or if they ought be careers (that doesnt feel right). Should I stick with using the basic archetypes? That might make the setting easier to grok. Fighter, wizrd, rogue/dps, cleric...
 

Silverlion

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Trying to figure how many classes should exist. Or if they ought be careers (that doesnt feel right). Should I stick with using the basic archetypes? That might make the setting easier to grok. Fighter, wizrd, rogue/dps, cleric...
I'll be honest. I'm more of a profession/career or skill package kinds a person, than a class-based person--because they usually give more customization options.
 

Ghost Whistler

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I hear that, but I think it might be more appropriate for this. Something like WFRP career system i don't think will work (and you'd need a lot of career options)
 
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